05 September 2013

Day 18- The Arrival

Tok to Anchorage

"For since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities—his eternal power and divine nature—have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that people are without excuse." Romans 1:20

Asphalt freedom didn't last long.

We woke up late and took our time getting ready. We left a little after 11. We again followed the directions advised by the border patrol officer to Anchorage. "Get into Tok and take a left." That's literally the way.

Despite being overcast, the drive was nothing short of looking like we were in a postcard.

And then the roads broke. Insert flashbacks to yesterday’s rollercoaster ride and Hubs’ too-soon celebration of our American liberation from the devastation on driving on dirt. The ruin and reconstruction turned our trip from what was supposed to be no more than a 5.5 hour drive into almost 7.

But then. You have no idea. Scenery I could only imagine invited us in a gorgeous dance of valley and mountains, the red and yellows and oranges highlighting the fall season of the forest climbing up the sides of giant earths of rock that formed the highest white-capped peaks of black-ridged wonder I've ever seen. The clouds gently graced the points of power high in the heavens as if just stopping by, kindly greeting the stationary stone. A grand gleaming glacier melted into a wild silver water cutting through the curves of each base. It all opened for us, twisting and turning around us, hugging us as they welcomed us home. Just 100 miles from arriving, just when we thought the credits about to roll, as we thought we were descending to our destination, the rocks and hills cried out, interrupting in glorious climax, the finale of the adventure of a lifetime. We rode the range and its river the whole way in to Anchorage. Of course, the pictures could never portray the beauty and majesty of it all.

We had laughed when the lady on a ferry asked where we were going. "Ahhh, Anchorage. The Big City," she said sincerely. We had heard it was about as big as Birmingham, but realize now that's not what she meant. She was from Juneau, so, yes, the city size was vastly different. Also, I have hiked mountains in Colorado and there, they are just a larger, grander construction than the dense detailed colors of the rolling Smokies. But THIS is the Big City.

We talked about how God took care of us. How we made the trip without a hitch and how the only problem was a three-hour oil change. We talked about how several times we thought about what it would be like to be here. Like in Denver- what if we were stationed at Carson and we were home. Two days later- what if we were stationed at Lewis and we were home.

Well, we are home. We are .25 parts excited, .75 parts freaking the freak out. We have been mostly quiet, giving each other off glances, and mumbling stuff like, “We live here” and “We’re here” and “I can’t believe we are here” and “Can you believe we live here”. Lots of variations of that.

We drove in with no place to stay and no room at the on-base lodging. At least not a room that welcomed a chiweenie. I had thought of each detail of getting here, but somehow, what to do after the getting-here part had slipped my mind. Our trip itinerary had been completed. We get to just make this part up as we go, I guess. They would not give us a document required for reimbursement saying that they did not have a room for us because we could have kenneled Jessie and, “we are only concerned about the people.” We decided to get a place off base with laundry for the first two nights and go from there.

We did drive around JBER for a while. Mostly in a tense weirdness of knowing this is ours and it is absurdly unfamiliar. GPS is simply incorrect on military installations, and we could find no one to help us. They apparently were all at home at 7:30pm. Something we will highly appreciate for the next three years, but today found irritating. “At Ft Bragg, people would be doing PT right now and still be at work.” He said this nostalgically, like it was a good thing or something. That put it into perspective for me, so I decided that this was good and we were fine and the view was amazing and we are in no rush. It was then we stumbled upon his company building, so now we know where he will go to work every day. We then stopped by the commissary and PX. That was the most surreal part for me. “This is our commissary, Babe. We live here.”
Hubs' Work
This guy greets us at the PX.

We checked in, brought in our stuff, went to dinner at Lone Star Steakhouse at 9:30pm (I’ve never felt any connection to Texas until it became a sister state of the lower 48. Solidarity.), and did a load of laundry. I put in a couple of emails to property on Craigslist to begin our search while Hubs caught up on sports highlights. He is in a Fantasy Football League and had one player tie a record score for most fantasy points. “Peyton Manning is good at football.” I am pro-Fantasy Football. Especially in times when it is our sole semblance of normal.

So, we made it.

Through 16 states and 2 territories.
British Columbia
Yukon Territory

Through five timezones.
(Yes, Alaska has its own timezone.)

Through over 4,300 miles in the car and 1,000 on the water.
And I did not drive a single one. Seriously. Hubs drove the ENTIRE way.

Through sun and wind and rain and land and sea and fights and laughter and driving and riding.

We live here and are ready to start this next chapter. I'm so glad you are along for the ride!

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